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The Life and Work of Dorothea Lange Research Paper

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2019

Dorothea Lange was a celebrated photojournalist and photographer. Many people remember her for her achievements and works in photojournalism. Dorothea was born in New Jersey’s Hoboken in 1895 to Margaretta Nutzhorn and Heinrich Nutzhorn.

His father, Heinrich Nutzhorn, was a lawyer but also worked in other positions. Dorothea Lange was brought up in a middle-class family in New Jersey. At the age of 12 years, her father left the family for good. The abandonment was one of Dorothea’s most traumatic incidents at a very early age.

She also contracted polio during her early childhood. Although these incidents humiliated her, they made her stronger than ever before and gave her the inspiration to achieve her dreams as a great photojournalist (Kobre 89).

At her tender age, Dorothea loved painting and other forms of art. Because of the passion and love for art, Dorothea did not show much interest in academics during her high school. After finishing high school, she decided to pursue photography at Columbia University.

After graduating from the university, Lange decided to take a career in photography. She opened her first portrait studio in San Francisco. The works and achievements of photographers such as Clarence White sparked her interest in photojournalism.

Dorothea decided to become an apprentice and worked for several companies and businesses. She also worked for various individuals in the photography businesses. Lange also worked under Arnold Genthe. Arnold was a leading photographer in the country during the period.

After moving to San Francisco, Dorothea opened her portrait studio thus marking the beginning of her successful photography career (Tsujimoto 75). After a few years in her career, Lange was concerned about the welfare of people in the society.

She decided to take photographs and use them to record the events taking place at the time. These events disoriented her thoughts because she wanted a better life for all people.

She also influenced the people she worked with because of her prowess and ability to overcome her health complications. After getting a job at the FSA (Farm Security Administration), Lange became a successful photojournalist in the country.

During the Great Depression, several changes took place in the American society. As the changes took place, Dorothea was there to take photographs of the events. Her work has remained outstanding because she managed to capture the events of the Great Depression.

The other reason why her work is outstanding is that she analyzed the deeper lives of people who were struggling with the depression (Venezia 9). This ability demonstrated unique sense of patience, love and affection.

Her photography was unique than most of the photojournalists of the time. Most of her works analyze the events taking place during the Great Depression and the Second World War. The work was critical and outstanding compared to those of the other people in the field.

After working under several photographers, she decided to start her own portrait studio. She operated her studio for several years. Following the Great Depression, the artist observed that the country was facing different challenges. Majority of the people were facing economic hardships due to the depression.

The photographer decided to capture images of the homeless children and the unemployed members of the society (Kobre 76). She became famous after capturing the attention of many individuals in the country. It is notable that Lange was a photographer at the beginning of her career until the depression.

Her skills and expertise made it possible to get an employment with the Resettlement Administration where she became a photojournalist.

It is agreeable that certain circumstances and events forced the photojournalist to change her styles of photography over the years. Her photographs remained classic and entertaining to her audiences.

It is acknowledgeable that Dorothea’s work covered the events taking place on the American streets. She documented the ugly scenes and events of the time (Kobre 89). Many people were various challenges and obstacles such as poverty, lack of employment, and poor living conditions.

The innocent photojournalist wanted to capture these images and present them to the people. During the period of the war, Lange was concerned about the working conditions of the people. She also examined how the Americans interacted with the Japanese (Keller 64).

This means that the photojournalist managed to examine the major challenges and obstacles faced by the people during the period. Lange was involved in the living and social conditions of the people in the country.

Lange’s famous work, The Migrant Mother, featured a woman by the name Florence Thompson. The work presented the sorrows and pain of a desperate mother. This presented the level of poverty and hunger faced by the people during the period.

The photo showed the need and pain of the migrant workers during the Great Depression (Kobre 89). The photographs became a source of controversy about the living conditions of migrant workers during the period of Japan Internment.

She believed that the government would consider the works and offer solutions to the social issues in the society. Some of these issues included lack of homes, employment, poor living conditions, and economic hardships (Venezia 93).

Most of her photographs satirized the American society and the conditions faced by the people. It was the right time to improve the living conditions of the people and overcome the pains of the Great Depression.

By 1941, Dorothea had become a famous photographer in the country. She was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship for her excellence in photojournalism. Following the onset of the war, Lange decided to give up the award.

Instead, she decided to record the evacuation of the Japanese to different camps in the country through photojournalism. Another notable award was that Ansel Adams offered her a faculty position. This was because of her excellent work in photojournalism (Kobre 89).

In 2008, the governor of California inducted Lange into the famous Hall of Fame in California. In 2006, a school in California was renamed to honor the photojournalist. It is agreeable that Dorothea was a great photographer who managed to influence the thoughts and ideas of a nation.

She also documented most of the events of the Great Depression. Today we have most of her works displayed in various museums and public libraries across the world.

The American Army banished most of the photographs of the Japanese internment. The army believed these photographs were controversial because they presented the negative images of the country.

It is acknowledgeable that Dorothea Lange managed to bring a new meaning to the world of photojournalism. Before her time, majority of the photojournalists concentrated on the issues and events that would catch the attention of many people.

Most of the photojournalists would only document events that would attract the public. During the time, photography was all about recording the most enjoyable moments and events (Venezia 93). However, Lange had something different in mind. She decided to document the history of the country through photography.

This was something new thereby bringing a new idea to the people. She decided to record the events of the depression and the time before the onset of the world war.

She also decided to use her expertise to address the social issues in the society. It is acknowledgeable that Lange managed to bring a new idea and meaning to the field. Lange died on October 1967 at the age of 70. She was suffering from esophageal cancer and was survived by Paul Taylor and two children.

Works Cited

Heyman, Therese. Dorothea Lange: American Photographs. New York: Longman, 2004. Print.

Keller, Judith. Dorothea Lange: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. Print.

Kobre, Kenneth. Photojournalism: The Professionals’ Approach. New York: Focal Press, 2008. Print.

Tsujimoto, Karen. Dorothea Lange: Archive of an Artist. Tokyo: Oxford University Press, 1995. Print.

Venezia, Mike. Dorothea Lange. New York: Longman, 2001. Print.

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